The Caves: Fire!


Uncle Andrew’s three boys were all little fellows, the youngest, John, was just a baby. Uncle Bill happened to be at the Caves. He must’ve left his family in San Francisco. I think it was in the early spring, maybe May. The stages had started running to the Tassajara Springs and there were some people staying there. Uncle Andrew was up early in the morning. He had built a fire in the wood stove and gone across the creek to the barn. There were horses to feed, cows to feed and milk and pigs and chickens to take care of. The creek runs quite a lot of water and makes quite a noise. He happened to look toward the house and saw flames coming out of the roof. Uncle Andrew ran to the house, but too late to do anything about the fire. Aunt Clara had heard the fire and grabbed the baby John and pulled Bruce out of his bed and ran outside with them. She lay the baby down on the ground and ran back to get Clarence and Bruce followed her into the smoke-filled house. She ran out with him but he would not stay outside.

Clarence was asleep in a little bed in a room by himself. Aunt Clara could not get back into the burning house, by this time the heat and smoke were too much for her. Uncle Bill heard the noise and when he knew it was a fire he jumped out of the window and ran around where Aunt Clara was trying to get into the house to get Clarence. Uncle Bill ran to the room where Clarence was asleep smashed the window with his fists and jumped in, grabbed the bedcovers in his arms and jumped out the window and ran from the burning house. He pulled the bedcovers apart but he did not have the little boy. He ran back and felt around the room until he came to the bed again and another arm full of covers and Clarence in them. He rolled them out on the ground just as the roof caved in and sparks and cinders shot out on all sides. He ran with the little boy to Aunt Clara and Uncle Bill and Andrew put out the small fire that started in all directions from the burning house. Aunt Clara was in her nightgown. The children were undressed and Uncle Bill had only some underwear on. Uncle Andrew was the only one dressed. They carried over logs and the wood and built a fire in a clear spot away from the smoldering embers of the house and covered the children with blankets that uncle Bill had grabbed off Clarence’s bed. There was some milk for all to drink but not much in the way of solid food.

If I remember correctly, Uncle Andrew started for the Springs for clothing and food but did not get far. He met a man on horseback coming to see if all was well. Somebody had seen the smoke. He turned back and before evening that first day there was a pack train with food and clothing, shoes and medicine etc. and one man by the name of Mr. Griffin with the offer of money to rebuild the house.